Johansen was born in Copenhagen on 7 July 1921 and was serving with the 8th Battalion The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment) before being recruited by SOE on 12 May 1943 and during training showed the required aptitude to teach members of the resistance sabotage. By the time Johansen arrived in Denmark by parachute there were 57 other agents building up resistance to support an eventual allied invasion and until the deployment of SOE there was virtually no effective resistance in Denmark.
Throughout 1943 it was mainly sabotage stores which was dropped into Denmark and as the number of resisters increased thousands of weapons were also dropped.
In 1943 there were only a few hundred resisters, in 1944 there were around 10,000 and eventually rose to 50,000 men and women (estimated as one per cent of the population). During the runup to D-day the resistance organisations were engaged in widespread sabotage which helped tie down German forces that would have been sent to northern France and SOE was also instrumental in bringing together various political groups.
Hans Johansen was captured at a safehouse by the Gestapo in Copenhagen on 25 July 1944 and because torture for information was inevitable, he swallowed his ‘L’ Pill (Cyanide) and died at the safehouse in under thirty seconds.
On the night of 10-11 December 1943, a Halifax II bomber (BB 378) of No.138 Special Duty Squadron took off from RAF Tempsford in Bedfordshire to commence Operation Tablejam 18 and Tablejam 19 to support the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Danish Resistance.
Tablejam 18 was the dropping of SOE agent Flemming B. Muss by parachute near Ringsted Gyldenløves before proceeding to another remote location (Tabletop 19) to drop nine containers of weapons near lake Tisso where members of the resistance were waiting delivery. Whilst approaching the first drop zone (Tablejam 18) the Halifax was intercepted by a night fighter said to be a JU 88 and during the attack the Halifax caught fire and at 01:54 hours crash landed on farmland near Ugerløse.
The wreck of Halifax BB 378 (Federal German Archives)
The crew were unhurt and after freeing themselves from the wreckage decided to split up to evade German forces, but another account states the SOE agent was successfully dropped and the Halifax was shot down whilst approaching the second drop zone (Tablejam 19).
With help from Dutch civilians and later by members of an escape line the pilot Peter Barter, navigator Joe Fry and wireless operator Bill Howell eventually reached the safety of Sweden.
Although flight sergeants Nick Anderson (engineer), Brian Atkins (second pilot/bomber), Sydney Smith (mid upper gunner) and Ralph Riggs (rear gunner) received assistance from members of the local community they were eventually denounced by a farmer and were fortunate to be taken into custody and questioned by the Luftwaffe not the Gestapo which had responsibility for countering resistance and special duty air crews came under their jurisdiction.
SOE agent Flemming Muss is know to have continued his resistance work and was later SOE’s senior agent in Denmark. His wife Varinka was also a member of the resistance and his mother Monica is thought to be the first Danish woman executed by the Germans for being a member of the resistance.